1 Tahrcountry Musings: New standards for Graphically Representing Biological Information

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New standards for Graphically Representing Biological Information

Till now, biology lacked a standardized notation for describing biological interactions. This was a big drawback in pursuing biological research. The vacuum was clearly felt by many scientists. This has just been overcome by dedicated research and development.

Scientists from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and their colleagues from 30 labs round the world worldwide have devised a new set of standards for graphically representing biological information. The innovators have described it as biology equivalent of the circuit diagram in electronics.

The project which was initiated by Hiroaki Kitano of the Systems Biology Institute in Tokyo, Japan, is coordinated by Nicolas Le Novère of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, England, and senior research fellow Michael Hucka, co-director of the Biological Network Modeling Center at Caltech's Beckman Institute.

The new standard is called the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN). SBGN will make it easier for biologists to understand each other's models. This will also help them share network diagrams effectively. SBGN is bound to act as a facilitator for the emergence of new industries devoted to the creation of software tools for working with SBGN, and its teaching and publication. SBGN combines an intuitive notation with the rigorous style of engineering and math

To ensure that the newly developed system does not become too vast and complicated, the researchers decided to define three separate types of diagram, which defines molecular process, relationships between entities, and links among biochemical activities. These different types of diagrams complement each other by representing different "views" of the same information, presented in different ways for different purposes. This approach reduces the complexity of any one type of diagram while broadening the range of what can be expressed about a given biological system.

The new standard was published in the August 8 issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.

No comments: